Preparing for Pregnancy: Alternativies to 5 HTP? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 05-04-2009, 01:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi. I had pretty severe PTSD after Ds was born from the birth. A year after he was born I went on Zoloft, and it was okay, but not great. I was on it for a year and it eventually caused me to gain a lot of weight, and I was already overweight to begin with, so it just wasn't healthy to take for me. After I went off of it, about a year later, I was diagnosed with Cylothymia (mild bipolar). I then started seeing a psychiatric nurse who was skilled in prescribing both natural supplements and drugs. She put me on a number of supplements as well as gave me some prescriptions for drugs in case I needed them. It has been a few months on the supplements and I am doing great, better then I have in so, so long. I never needed to get the drug prescriptions filled.

However, I am doing so well, that finally (almost four years after Ds was born) I am starting to think about having another baby. I just found out that 5 HTP was not considered safe for pregnancy or nursing. I found a study on lab rats where it caused Pre-eclampsia type symptoms and low birth weight. Several places said that it was not good for nursing mothers because it can interfere with milk production, and it is not good for a developing brain to have high levels of serotonin (and they don't know how much of the 5 HTP goes through the breastmilk). So, I have decided that 5 HTP will not be an option for me for a future pregnancy or postpartum.

I am really worried now though because the 5 HTP in conjunction with magnesium (which helps your body absorb the 5 HTP) is what is helping me the most. I increase and decrease my levels of 5 HTP based on the time of the month (PMS is a killer for me) and I have regulated my mood with it quite well. I am afraid to go off of it now. I was only on 50 mg of Zoloft, but it was too much for me I believe, because my body responds very much to small amounts of drugs. Supplements work very well for me due to this.

Are there any supplements that would work in place of 5 HTP that proven to be safe for a pregnant or breastfeeding mother? Are there any drugs other then Zoloft that have similar qualities of not giving much drug to the baby? I may be able to get through the pregnancy without anything, because when I was pregnant with DS I was very happy and content. However, I really think I need to have something immediately available for the postpartum, if not supplements, then some type of drug.
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#2 of 26 Old 05-04-2009, 11:50 AM
 
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You can try lower doses of zoloft, like 25 or 12.5 mg. Also, Prozac is recommended for pregnancy, also, and sometimes does not cause the weight gain of zoloft. IF I were to try another ssri, it would be prozac. Zoloft made me gain weight, too.

If the zoloft worked for you, you can try it at a much lower dose. You might not need as much during pregnancy, anyway, because the hormones kind of support good mood and make you feel relaxed. THen you could up your dose after the baby is born.

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#3 of 26 Old 05-04-2009, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You can try lower doses of zoloft, like 25 or 12.5 mg. Also, Prozac is recommended for pregnancy, also, and sometimes does not cause the weight gain of zoloft. IF I were to try another ssri, it would be prozac. Zoloft made me gain weight, too.

If the zoloft worked for you, you can try it at a much lower dose. You might not need as much during pregnancy, anyway, because the hormones kind of support good mood and make you feel relaxed. THen you could up your dose after the baby is born.
I guess I wouldn't say the Zoloft worked for me, in addition to making me gain weight I felt sort of numb to life, not really any range of emotion. Also, I read that all SSRI's cause weight gain after six months. So SSRI's would really be a last resort for me. I would much rather try a supplement first, as long as it's a safe one to take during pregnancy or during nursing.
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#4 of 26 Old 05-04-2009, 01:20 PM
 
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Then I would take as much fish oil as you can, add a Vitamin B Complex, take extra C, take Magnesium, and make sure you exercise and eat lots of good protein while you are pregnant.

BTW, this is what I am doing now instead of my ssri. I weaned off in March and have been supplementing a lot since then. I am nursing still so I can't do 5HTP.

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#5 of 26 Old 05-04-2009, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Then I would take as much fish oil as you can, add a Vitamin B Complex, take extra C, take Magnesium, and make sure you exercise and eat lots of good protein while you are pregnant.

BTW, this is what I am doing now instead of my ssri. I weaned off in March and have been supplementing a lot since then. I am nursing still so I can't do 5HTP.
Yep, I'm doing all that, except the extra C (how much do you take of that?), just taking what's in my multi-vitamin. I am on Stress-B, 4000 mg of D, 400 IU's of E, 250 mg of magnesium (500 did wonders for me, but my digestive system can only tolerate 250), evening primrose oil, tourine (for weight control), 6000 mg of fish oil (very high quality) and a metagenics multi vitamin. Really, all that stuff is doing wonders for me, but the 5 HTP is the one thing that helps the most - and the one thing you can't take while nursing or pregnant. Since taking the magnesium the 5 HTP gets absorbed even more and helps even more. I'm just wondering if there is a replacement for the 5 HTP that is safe, because I feel that removing it from the equation is going to cause an issue. I am willing to resort to SSRI's this time, as I learned my lesson from last time that an alive mom is better then trace amounts of meds going into baby, I just truly respond better to supplements then SSRI's which is why I'm really leaning towards trying to find a mix that would work.
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#6 of 26 Old 05-04-2009, 03:19 PM
 
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Nothing else that I can think of that is safe. St Johns wort... no. Gaba... no. I think you can try to just get by on what you are taking...

Otherwise, really, an ssri (you can get prozac in liquid down to 4 mg doses) would be the thing to do. Really. Even while you are nursing if you took prozac (it's the oldest and best studied ssri) it would be better than being non functional. You don't want to go to "that place"--I have been there-- again.

WHere did you read that all ssri's cause weight gain after 6 months? Not true. All of them react with each person differently.

You can also try Wellbutrin, which is not an ssri and is safe in pregnancy.

I am extremely sensitive to ssri's, too. Zoloft is therapeutic for me at 12.5 mg or less.

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#7 of 26 Old 05-06-2009, 12:41 AM
 
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Yes, I know of something that could help you. It is safe for pregnancy. It is SAM-e (pronounced Sammy)

It has been used in Clinical studies for problems of the liver during pregnancy

This is an answer from a professional herbalist.....
A quote from this link....

http://naturallyhealthy.org/askshonda2.php

SAM-E in Pregnancy
Q. Below is part of an email I received from a friend who had a baby a few weeks ago...I'm sending this to the wise women in my life in hopes of receiving an answer I can forward to her. She is asking about a supplement called "SAM-e" that she has used in the past, and wants to know if it is safe while nursing. Thanks in advance for your advice...
Vicki


A. Vicki, SAM-e is considered safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In fact, SAM-e has been successfully used to treat intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy.



A few high quality brands

http://www.iherb.com/Jarrow-Formulas...blets/123?at=0
http://www.iherb.com/Doctor-s-Best-D...lets/4732?at=0


http://74.6.239.67/search/cache?ei=U...icp=1&.intl=us

5-HTP in Pregnancy
Q. I am familiar with your work after years of hanging around HAH, and being on Vickilynn's email list on and off as well. A little over four years ago, I was on 5HTP for depression. I was nursing at the time, and the naturopath simply had me keep an eye on young one (who was rather large, and out of the newborn stage). For approximately the past two years, I have been on Zoloft for PPD. Now pregnant with #5, the Zoloft is making me ill. I have been off of it for several weeks, and it is clear that I need *something* to keep me on a level playing field. I have been searching for information on the safety of 5HTP while pregnant and am coming up with nothing. Do you have ANY information at all about the 5HTP and pregnancy? Please help!

Tanna

A. Tanna, I was able to track down a caution for use during pregnancy, in fact, a direct “not intended for use during pregnancy.” This makes perfect sense as one of the actions of 5-HTP is to reduce appetite and aid in weight loss, two actions very undesirable for pregnancy. Have you considered St. John’s wort, which is not contraindicated during pregnancy or breastfeeding? This might be a natural alternative to discuss with your physician. If you choose to take the St. John’s wort, a standardized product taken daily would be the best form of the herb to take
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#8 of 26 Old 05-07-2009, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I know of something that could help you. It is safe for pregnancy. It is SAM-e (pronounced Sammy)
I did some research on it, and the safety in pregnancy is unknown. They say it was only tested in the third trimester, and only in an IV form, not in an oral form. I am a little leery to take something in pregnancy that has not been proven to be safe. Also, like 5 HTP it can cause hypomania or mania, which is a concern for me, although 5 HTP does not have that effect. Thanks for the suggestion though, I may ask the psychiatric nurse I see about this and get her take on it.
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#9 of 26 Old 05-07-2009, 11:25 AM
 
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If you dont want to take SAMe, I suggest changing your fish oil brand to a special high EPA fish oil formulated especially for depression.

http://www.vitacost.com/Country-Life-Omega-3-Mood


EPA is the most important thing in fish oil for depression.

I just got off of Zoloft, and fish oil is keeping me sane! I am taking 5 gelcaps of Omega 3 Mood. I highly recommend taking at least 4 gelcaps even during pregnancy. I took high dose fish oil during my pregnancy, and it helped keep my off of meds. I also used an Apollo light, and it did help. 30 minutes of light each morning while doing computer stuff or reading is easy, and it works.


This is what I bought and used during my pregnancy in 2008......


http://www.lighttherapy.com/britelite.html

There has been a study on light therapy for pregnant women depression. I highly recommend this along with the fish oil I mentioned above.

http://www.webmd.com/depression/news...ncy-depression
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#10 of 26 Old 05-07-2009, 12:15 PM
 
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Hijacking just a little bit here...sorry!

My NMD has me on 5 HTP for OCD and I am currently nursing my 7.5 mo DD. I haven't seen any problems yet (I've only been on it for a couple weeks though). What are the risks while nursing and is there something I should be watching for?

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#11 of 26 Old 05-07-2009, 12:34 PM
 
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It's just not recommended for nursing, period. Julia Ross talks about this in the Mood Cure. Probably it is way more available in the breast milk than ssri's which have been studied extensively, and zoloft for example, does not get in to breastmilk because of its high molecular weight. It's too big.

I would seriously consider stopping the 5HTP. It's not considered safe, and you have to watch for things like hyper stimulation and mania, which you might not catch in a baby. I would seriously consider changing. You would have to have the 5HTP out of your system for at least 2 weeks before starting an ssri.

You could try mega doses of fish oil, too. But I would really stop the 5HTP.

Sorry.

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#12 of 26 Old 05-07-2009, 12:53 PM
 
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Try pyrodoxine hydrochloride (B6) as it works in conjunction with 5HTP to clear it out of your system.
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#13 of 26 Old 05-07-2009, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hijacking just a little bit here...sorry!

My NMD has me on 5 HTP for OCD and I am currently nursing my 7.5 mo DD. I haven't seen any problems yet (I've only been on it for a couple weeks though). What are the risks while nursing and is there something I should be watching for?
From what I read, it seems that there are two issues. One is that it can interfere with milk production. The other is that they don't know how much gets into the breastmilk and to the baby, and if it does get to the baby it isn't good. Having increased serotonin for a developing brain is not good, if I remember right there were studies done about the harmful effects of this. That was enough for me to not consider it while nursing.
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#14 of 26 Old 05-07-2009, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you dont want to take SAMe, I suggest changing your fish oil brand to a special high EPA fish oil formulated especially for depression.

http://www.vitacost.com/Country-Life-Omega-3-Mood


EPA is the most important thing in fish oil for depression.

I just got off of Zoloft, and fish oil is keeping me sane! I am taking 5 gelcaps of Omega 3 Mood. I highly recommend taking at least 4 gelcaps even during pregnancy. I took high dose fish oil during my pregnancy, and it helped keep my off of meds. I also used an Apollo light, and it did help. 30 minutes of light each morning while doing computer stuff or reading is easy, and it works.


This is what I bought and used during my pregnancy in 2008......


http://www.lighttherapy.com/britelite.html

There has been a study on light therapy for pregnant women depression. I highly recommend this along with the fish oil I mentioned above.

http://www.webmd.com/depression/news...ncy-depression
I am on a high quality brand fish oil, it is Vital Choice. I learned about it when my son was diagnosed with Verbal Apraxia, which was resolved after taking fish oil (see my sig). But, the balance of EPA/DHA has to be just so to help with Apraxia, so is there a specific balance for mood as well? That might be worth considering a change if so.

Also, thanks for the reminder about the light box! I am reading The Chemistry of Joy right now and he mentions how helpful light boxes can be. That is a great option.
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#15 of 26 Old 05-07-2009, 10:42 PM
 
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Hi again! Yes there is a specific balance for mood. Fish oil taken for mood healthneeds to be high in EPA. Like as close to a 7:1 ratio of EPA to DHA as you can get.

This article explains why EPA should be high for depression ect....
http://www.fattyacidtrip.com/epa-to-dha-ratio/

Omegabrite is a great option, and the omegabrite website has alot of information, research, ect. But Omegabrite is very expensive. The brand I told you about (Country Life Omega Mood) above is very close to Omegabrite's ratio of EPA: DHA 7:1 and very high quality, but it is cheap!!!!

Information on omegabrite, the importance of EPA, ect

http://www.fattyacidtrip.com/epa-pro...ive-to-prozac/
http://omegabrite.com/
http://www.fattyacidtrip.com/how-to-...-epa-fish-oil/
http://www.fattyacidtrip.com/latest-...d-disorders-2/



My husband takes 4 of the Country Life Omega Mood each day, I take 5, and I try to give 2 gelcaps each to my 6 year old DS and 5 year old DD!! I am a huge believer in fish oil. I just more recently in the last several months or so realized how important that a high EPA fish oil product was for mood health, learning, ADHD, and hyperactive children. I have spent hours and hours of research late into the night....on fish oil!!

I took a high dose during my pregnancy and my daughter is so alert! Poeple that have no idea I took fish oil have commented on how alert she is. I think its the fish oil!
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#16 of 26 Old 05-08-2009, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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herbsgirl,

I'll have to look into the fish oil thing and see what the ratio of the one I am taking is.

Also, is there any reason you went with the britelight and not the golight? http://www.lighttherapy.com/golite_p1.html I can get this model on amazon for $90.00 and it is small and compact. But is there any reason it wouldn't be as good?
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#17 of 26 Old 05-08-2009, 07:57 PM
 
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I actually considered the golight also. Im sure if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, that the golight would help. I just thought that the 10,000 lux bright light is what I wanted because that is what they use in the studies alot of times, and the golight is a blue light I think. Blue light is ok, but I wasnt 100% convinced it was as good as the britelight. But i cant remember the exact reason right off hand.

There is a good chance the golight would help you. Read reviews on it, that helps me decide on what to buy. There are reviews on amazon on the golight.
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#18 of 26 Old 05-20-2009, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I actually considered the golight also. Im sure if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, that the golight would help. I just thought that the 10,000 lux bright light is what I wanted because that is what they use in the studies alot of times, and the golight is a blue light I think. Blue light is ok, but I wasnt 100% convinced it was as good as the britelight. But i cant remember the exact reason right off hand.

There is a good chance the golight would help you. Read reviews on it, that helps me decide on what to buy. There are reviews on amazon on the golight.
I read the reviews on Amazon and decided to go with the BriteLite 6 as well. It was only $109.00 on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Philips-Respir...2830009&sr=8-1
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#19 of 26 Old 05-20-2009, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Omegabrite is a great option, and the omegabrite website has alot of information, research, ect. But Omegabrite is very expensive. The brand I told you about (Country Life Omega Mood) above is very close to Omegabrite's ratio of EPA: DHA 7:1 and very high quality, but it is cheap!!!!
I read the links about the 7:1 ratio and went ahead and ordered the Country Life Omega Mood. Thanks for the suggestions!
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#20 of 26 Old 05-20-2009, 04:27 PM
 
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So glad I could help! Hopefully you never have any depression and you have a wonderful pregnancy. Just some heads up on the fish oi thing...... I took high dose fish oil during my pregnancy,and my baby is almost ahead in her development. and VERY alert. I have gotten comments frequently from others how alert she is! She has been alert like this scince birth!

I think the Britelight will work well for you, and the Omega 3 Mood has really made a difference for me.
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#21 of 26 Old 05-21-2009, 12:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So glad I could help! Hopefully you never have any depression and you have a wonderful pregnancy. Just some heads up on the fish oi thing...... I took high dose fish oil during my pregnancy,and my baby is almost ahead in her development. and VERY alert. I have gotten comments frequently from others how alert she is! She has been alert like this scince birth!

I think the Britelight will work well for you, and the Omega 3 Mood has really made a difference for me.
Ha, well, Ds was very alert since birth as well, to the point where he screamed every night for hours because it was like he was getting to much stimulation than his brain was ready for. He is still "alert" in that he is quite anxious and hyper aware of his surroundings. He was also developmentally ahead, and tested 2 and half years ahead cognitively when we had all his apraxia testing. However, he didn't speak, and got a diagnosis of apraxia. Then we gave him fish oil and he started talking, at an amazingly fast rate to the point that he was completely caught up within six months. Anyway, the alert thing wont sell me, I really want a perfectly average baby this time so it will lay in the sling and be able to fall asleep at night But, the possibility of preventing the whole speech delay, or apraxia issue in the baby would be a bonus. How much fish oil did you take in pregnancy? I'm taking 6000 mg now.

And the brightlight should be great this fall. I live in MN so we have a long winter here.
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#22 of 26 Old 05-21-2009, 10:43 PM
 
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I guess you and I are talking about different kind of "alert"

My daughter is my 4th baby, and the only one I took fish oil with. She is my happiest baby, VERY smiley, more than any of my other kids were. For the first 5 months of her life, she hardly cried at all. I mean it. It was like she was the perfect baby!!!!!!! I really think the fish oil made a difference. I took around 2500 mg combined EPA/DHA on average, probably like 4-6,000 mg fish oil (total on bottle) She is getting teeth now, and has been sick some, so she isnt quite as happy as she was, but still has a very happy disposition. She is pulling up to things and standing up at 7 months!

My first baby screamed alot too!
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#23 of 26 Old 05-22-2009, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess you and I are talking about different kind of "alert"

My daughter is my 4th baby, and the only one I took fish oil with. She is my happiest baby, VERY smiley, more than any of my other kids were. For the first 5 months of her life, she hardly cried at all. I mean it. It was like she was the perfect baby!!!!!!! I really think the fish oil made a difference. I took around 2500 mg combined EPA/DHA on average, probably like 4-6,000 mg fish oil (total on bottle) She is getting teeth now, and has been sick some, so she isnt quite as happy as she was, but still has a very happy disposition. She is pulling up to things and standing up at 7 months!

My first baby screamed alot too!
Ah, sounds good. I'll just keep taking the 6000 mg then (of total fish oil), and hope I have a happy alert baby too
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#24 of 26 Old 06-01-2009, 06:03 PM
 
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I'm glad people mentioned the light therapy to stimulate seretonin production.

No one has mentioned exercise yet. Do you go out in the early morning for a walk that elevates your heart rate for 20+ minutes? The combo of exercise and morning sunlight is a great seretonin booster and helpful for sleeping at night (aerobic exercise can combat hypomania and anxiety also by reducting the body's production of stress hormones, cortisol, etc.).
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#25 of 26 Old 07-11-2009, 08:10 PM
 
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Thanks!

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#26 of 26 Old 10-02-2012, 09:43 AM
 
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Hi! I'm wondering if you decided to stick with 5-HTP or if you found something else that worked? I'm in a similar situation. TTC baby #2, really struggle with anxiety, primarily (had panic attacks while prego before) and love my supplements. I've also had terrible experiences with SSRIs and don't want to simply give up taking supplements that work just because so little is known.... but I will, of course, if I need to. I'd rather have an alternative! 

 

Did you find a supplement plan that worked for pregnancy? What did evening primrose oil help with? How much taurine did you take (and that's safe during pregnancy?)? 

 

Thanks!

 

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